Stage 13 – Ooh LuLu La La!

Once again kudos to Killing Spree for today’s headline. He is on fire. I guess after 12 years of rubbish teams he had to find a new way to get a mention in the report.

Whilst the racing in a TT is not that exciting, watching the clock certainly was. At least until I fell asleep. But luckily I recorded so caught up on the excitement this morning. Thomas de Ghent laid down a great time early on, so was in the hot seat for a couple of hours watching TT specialists come and go. His time was looking to maybe get challenged by this years revelation Wout van Aert, until he clipped a barrier and unfortunately slashed his thigh open. It was an horrific crash, and spelled the end of the Tour for van Aert. It took an hour to stitch him up in hospital. De Ghent’s time was nearly challenged by Richie Porte, who had a good ride, putting time into a number of his opponents. He moved into 15th place, but really needs to do something now in the mountains to challenge for the top 10. Thibault Pinot did a great time to keep himself in the hunt for a podium. But all eyes were on the battle between Thomas and Alaphilippe and by how much Thomas would win by, and how much would Lulu save the yellow jersey by. But the course really suited the Frenchman, especially with some tricky descents that played to his strengths. Thomas was strong, but with the extra couple of percent that the yellow jersey gives you, Alaphilippe won by 14 seconds, to extend his lead in the tour to 1:28.

This was the first French TT win since I am going to guess Laurent Fignon  in the early 90s. The commentators were say Lean-Francois Bernard but I think it might have been Fignon. Either way that is 25+ years ago since a Frenchman won a TT in the Tour!

Of course Tommo and Macca, and every French journo, are now giving Lulu a chance to win the tour. Sorry Macca, I object to you using the words “our expert opinion” when referring to Tommo. I don’t believe Alaphilippe will be in Yellow after tonight’s stage. Although I did not think he could win the TT, but I think the Tourmalet will be a step too far. At least I am in good company. Robbie agreed with me about the TT and Alaphilippe holding on to yellow. So we can both be wrong together.

No change at the top of the table with yesterdays top 3 just holding on. It is close at the top though with the top 6 all within 80 points. Big mover into the top 20 was Snicko 4, to give him a two pronged attack, with Alaphilippe and Buchmann in his team. Some big movers overnight but today’s mention goes to Team LJ. Puffy is making another bid for the basement but Fat Lasses at the back 1, an appropriate name for the Lantern Rouge, held on by a single point.

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Uber Yates eats Mühlberger, fries Bilbao, now has the lot!

Shout out to Killing Spree for today’s headline. Been getting some good ideas from my understudy, and in fact yesterdays headline inspiration also came from him. After 12 years I am up to about 240 headlines, so it’s getting harder to come up with some new material.

First foray into the high mountains but it was never going to be a GC battle. There was still 30km of peddling required from the top of the last climb, and the GC guys are saving their legs for the ITT tonight. So a massive break of 42 riders got away. I would like to know who the accountant was to work out if any of them were a threat! Sagan hulked the sprint points but on the last climb it was on for stage glory. Trentin did a great job to help the other Yates brother at the front and he went over the top with Mühlberger , quickly followed by Bilbao. The trio worked well together on the descent, ensuring that the chasers never got much within a minute. The tricky bit for Yates was outsprinting Mühlberger, who had recently pushed Alaphilippe in a sprint that went to a photo finish. But the Yates boys are smart riders. He made sure he went into the final corner in first place, blocking the Austrian against the barriers, with Bilbao completing the block. Then with 200m to go unleashed his sprint. There was nothing the Austrian could do and in fact even got taken on the line by the unlikely Bilbao.

Unfortunately the news of Yates getting his maiden TdF stage to complete the grand tour set, was overshadowed by the strange departure from the race of Rohan Dennis. On my way to work I did some reading and it seems he is a difficult prickly character. A lot of people seem to think he is unhappy with his TT bike and had a bit of a dummy spit the day before the ITT where he was obviously the favourite. I am sure the truth will come out in the days/weeks to come, but to leave the tour like this, in my opinion, is disrespectful. It is the pinnacle of many riders career to just race this race. I am sure there was another Bahrain Merida rider who would have loved to be there. Although there does seem to be a great disquiet in that team with Nibbles leaving at the end of this season as well.

Same three culprits at the top with Italian Chris earning just enough points (45) so take top spot again. TMV4 up one and Snicko 5 down 2. Big mover into the top 20 was Sicknote 4, up 18 spots into 6th thanks to Yates and Trentin. Biggest mover was The Trab, up 88 spots to almost break the top 100. Puffy drags himself off the bottom a couple of days earlier than I thought he would to leave the door open for Fat Lasses at the back 1 to take sole ownership of the Lantern Rouge.

Should be another shake up in the fight for yellow tonight. I think Alaphilippe will hold on to yellow until tomorrow. He is not a bad TT rider, but not as good as Thomas or Bernal. But the yellow jersey gives you wings, so he may surprise. It will be interesting if the Ineos pair put a bit more time into the other GC riders. It is a big night for Porte who is almost 3 minutes back on G. He can Time trial, but will he be able to take any time back. I suspect the TT is too short to make that miuch of a different. It will certainly be in interesting stage.

Stage 11 – Caleb takes the green road on the way to the promised land

Here we go again, although only a five day block of racing before the next rest day. But they should be a cracking few days and last night did not disappoint. Another standard day for the sprinters, although after the cross winds of stage 10, the GC guys were nervous that it might happen again. However the usual sprinters script was allowed to play out, break goes, sprinters team control the break, lead-out trains do their thing, sprinter wins. Wout van Aert had his own addendum to that on stage 10, but was working for Dylan Groenewegen. All Aussie hopes were on Caleb Ewan who has come close on a few occasions this tour, but his hopes were almost dashed as he came to a standstill after unclipping with 10km to go. There was a ripple effect that pushed his lead out man into the ditch, and he got caught behind it. What was interesting from the video was that it looked like one of his own Lotto team mates caused the ripple!

The peloton stops for no one with 10km to go, so one of his other lead out men dropped back and dragged Ewan back to the fast moving peloton, depositing him somewhere near the front. Jumbo Visma were leading the charge, but it looked to me they were maybe a man short, as Magic Mike had to do what appeared to be an extra long pull. You could see Teunissen was dead, but knew he had to go for 50 more meters for Groenewegen to save him going in the wind too early. Amazing lead out. But the pocket rocket had got himself onto Groenewegens wheel and popped out at the last minute, in a style very similar to the great Mark Cavendish. Nose on the bars, eyeballs out. He got Groenewegen by a centimeter to deny Jumbo Visma their 5th stage win. He also ensured that we get yet another different winner of a stage. No rider has won more than one stage, which is about as unusual as the fact that only 7 riders have abandoned, and we are more than half way through.

I have been gentle on the commentators this year. I felt really bad last year when I heard Paul Sherwen had died. I didn’t particularly like his commentating and think we have a much better team with Robbie and Matt. But, along with Phil Liggett he was 50% of the voices of cycling for so long. Warning : Serious bit. If you are doing it tough for whatever reason, don’t keep it to yourself. There are plenty of people you can talk to, friends, family, professionals. Don’t suffer in silence and feel you are alone. The rest of you, check in on your mates. End Serious bit.

That being said, it’s time to get into Tommo and Cam Wurth. Tommo, really has no clue, or maybe he is just like a puppy and gets a bit over excited, but he doesn’t half talk a load of bollox. But it was Cam who was winding me up last night.

Annoying quote #1 : “Caleb showed them a clean pair of heels”…. really? He won by 1cm. Not exactly a clean pair of heels, a brilliant bike throw I would say.

Annoying quote #2 : “We talk about Cavendish breaking Merckx record, this guy is on his way”…. Mate, he is 25, and he does not have the HTC lead out train that Cav had that delivered him to 5 or 6 stage wins in a tour, and by the margin that Cav won by. When Cav was 23 he won 4 stages in the tour, the next year he won 6. In his 4th tour, the year he was 25, he crashed on stage 1 but still won 5 stages. So by the time Cavendish was 25 he had already won 15 stages! Caleb, don’t get me wrong, is brilliant. He could have won 3 stages already, but Gronewegen out threw him once and he got himself boxed in another time. There are not many more sprint stages in this tour, with maybe 2 to go, plus he has to get over the mountains. Maybe he can go on to win 10-15 like McEwen, but I think Cavs record as the best sprinter is pretty safe. You can throw that in my face in 8 years time! Although to give Caleb credit, he was held back by Michelton Scott for 3 years maybe, so who knows what could have happened.

Annoying Quote #3 : “Alaphilippe is a guy who can go deep into the 3rd week.” I don’t even think Alaphilippe thinks that. My opinion, he will get dropped on Saturday on the Tourmalet. He is lucky the ITT is so short, or he might have got overhauled there. I think Cam gets as excited as Tommo.

Man, I had a lot to say today! So we all have our new teams. Personally I am quite happy with 2 of mine! I might make a move for the first time in 12 years. Although in saying that I just checked, up 3 and down 17… However, as luck would have it Snicko 5 pulled Ewan in the redraw, so he is back on top, pushing Rest day leader Italian Chris and TMV4 down a spot. However with Nibbles as his GC rider, that should be the last we see of him for the next 4 days, unless Nibbles goes for the stage win on the Tourmalet. Big mover mention goes to Brett Kenny, up 84 places, as usual from nowhere to somewhere in the middle. I might give a new mention, as they are free, to the big mover into the top 20, as a tipster to watch. The inaugural mention goes to Mrs Chuck up 16 spots to 15th. Finally we have a change at the bottom, with Puffy owning the right to be the first sole holder of the Lantern rouge. It has taken 11 stages, but well done mate. Although with Quintana and the mountains coming, he will be hard pushed to hold on to it.

Stage 10 – Ineos show Porte the door, Wout happened to the rest?

What a stage… again! A nothing stage, should have been a simple sprint stage. Break goes away, peloton lets them hang for a bit, catches them and then there is a sprint. All it took was a little wind. Teams whining, EF Started it, it wasn’t me, so said the peloton, but EF got their arse kicked as the gap opened and Ineos and Dekeunick-Quickstep were in the front group. For all their faults, Ineos know how to race. Have they even been caught out by the cross winds? I think the answer is no. Marry that with Dekeunick-Quickstep, a Belgian team, expert in the cross winds, and you know you are going to have a few teams in trouble. And so it was, Porte, Pinot, Fuglsang, Uran losing 1:40 and the unlucky Landa, losing 2:09 after being knocked off his bike by Barguil. And it was even worse for Zacarin and Bennett. The kiwis not only losing the Cricket world cup, but a bunch of time in the Tour as well. But Ineos and DQ pushed on and made the most of the gaps and the sprinters who managed to get in the final group were laughing. Of course that included Sagan, Matthews, Ewen and Vivianni. In the end the Sunweb team wasted a perfectly brilliant lead-out, with 4 guys in front of Bling. They delivered him perfectly, and he let everyone ride around him, only to regroup for 4th spot. In fact, he was beaten by a cyclo cross non-sprinter, as was Vivianni, and Ewan, with the brilliant Wout van Aert taking Jumbo Visma’s 4th stage win of this tour.

I liked G’s grinning interview while he was warming down when he sarcastically said “But yeah, we race boring anyway, don’t we?”. Ineos (Sky) haters will be up in arms about something, but in the past few years they have certainly done some interesting moves. Froomes solo attack on a downhill where he introduced the world to descending on the crossbar. Froome and Sagan attacking off the front together to give Sagan the win and time for Froome.

So the first rest day is upon us. That means more prizes in the tipping comp. Suddenly, thanks to Wout van Aerts brilliant win, Italian Chris leap frogs the usual suspects to take line honours on the first rest day and $30. TMV4 slips one spot to take $20 for 2nd and Snicko 5 slips back into 3rd for $10. Big mover mention today goes to Pinnacle Insulting Group #2 up 62 spots. Merrill and Fat Lasses are still anchored to the bottom of the table. No really big movers today, although that may change after the rest day as the lower teams may get better riders. For the newbies,  to wind certain people up and keep it interesting there will be a rest-day redraw. on both rest days. This means you will keep the team you have until the first rest day. At which point the teams will be generated again. So you should have a completely different team, that might be better or worse than the one you had. Any riders that have been eliminated will still go into the redraw and be available for selection. This is partly for fairness, but mainly for me to have fun at your expense. For example if you have a rider in your team on week 1 and he crashes out on stage 1 then you miss out on potential points, the same will then be true after the rest day redraw for the teams that get that rider. Same happens on the 2nd rest day. So look out tomorrow for your new, albeit temporary, teams!

Stage 9 – Porte has more than 9 lives for the first time in years

Not a very exciting night in the tour, especially after the fun and games of the previous day. Everyone was a bit tired so it was agreed that every team could have their worst rider go in the break. In the end only 13 teams fessed up to being rubbish and signed up for the break, with Bahrain-Merida admitting they were really crap this year by putting in 2 riders. They gained 15 minutes as the peloton had an easy day. Something to celebrate for the Aussies as the Michleton-Scott teams sprinter Daryl Impey was in the break. He expertly worked over his breakaway companions to ensure he was sprinting for honours, and there was no way Benoot could match his pace.

The big news however is that Richie Porte will be starting Stage 10 for the first time in 3 years having crashed out on stage 9 the last 2 years. It was the cobbles last year that broke him, and who can forget his horrific crash in 2017 when he slammed into a bank. All good this year, until he gets sick that is.

Talking of getting sick, let me go once again to the Giro Rosa and the ladies. Michelton-Scotts female team are the dominant force in womens cycling and have just won the Giro Rosa with The Alien (Annemiek van Vleuten), and Amanda Spratt 3rd.  But it was Gracie Brown’s ride in the opening team time trial that got my interest. Sprat said of Brown “She was our hero today, suffering and we were just encouraging her and trying to get her through to the finish.” And get through she did, but not without making a bit of a mess of her shiny time trial bike along the way. Brown later tweeted “When you finish a TTT with a little spew on your bike, you know you’ve given your all 🤮. That was proper suffering!” Gracie used to work for one of our tipsters company, so Teckers will be happy she got a mention.

It was Bastille day yesterday and the French were not as revolting as they often are. Normally you will see a big attempt by a Frenchman to win on the nations national holiday, but it was not to be. However, in the tipping comp, Bastille day means prizes, with $30 to the team that scored the most points, then $20 and $10 for 2nd and 3rd. This years winner with 160 points is TMV1, 2nd goes to Evil Pony with 135, followed by Orange Cycle Lady 1 with 130 points. TMV4 holds on to top spot, and but for the fact the tour is riding today, he would have won the first rest day prize. As it is there is a stage tonight, and the rest day redraw will take place tomorrow. Fat lasses at the back 4 jumps into prize contention with a leap of 6 spots into 2nd place, with Geordies holding onto 3rd by a slim margin. No change at the bottom, with Fat Lasses 1 and Merrill battling it out. They both have Greipel, but their team leaders are Bardet and Kruijswijk, so that will explain the lack of points! Big mover mention today goes to Heartthrobs08 up 119 spots to be about as mid table medioctity as you can get.

Stage 8 – Tour gets adrenaline injection as G suffers Alaphilipptic shock!

What a stage last night, it had everything. Once again a break-away went, no surprise there, but the surprise was once again a rider from the break-away survived to the finish and once again Matthews will be ruing all his work to win the stage, only to have it taken by break-away riders. He will get his chance, maybe tonight.

But there were 3 sub-plots on offer last night. First the break-away. No surprise to see Thomas de Ghent in there again, this time picking up mountain points. However, with a final acceleration, he dropped his last companion and forged for the finish, just managing to hold on for his 2nd TdF stage win. He got all the mountain points to put himself in 2nd place behind room-mate Tim Wellens. Nice story about this pair. After last years season closing Giro de Lombardia, Tim and Tommy decided to remind themselves what they love about bike riding, and that is not training and racing. They took their race bikes, fitted some bike packing bags and rode home to Belgium. 1000km over 6 days. You can read about it here.

The 2nd sub-plot was the worst kept secret in cycling. Alaphilippe would attack on the last really steep climb and regain the yellow jersey. And so it unfolded as scripted except the 3rd sub-plot was to become evident as Thibaut Pinot jumped on Alaphilippes back wheel. As he said himself, he was waiting all day for Alaphilippe to go and was ready. This was particularly impressive as following Alaphilippe downhill is not that easy, but it was not that long ago that Pinot could not descend at all.

Are the rest of the GC riders not paying attention, or are they just confident of their ability in the mountains to come? The only CG rider who can be excused is Geraint Thomas. Just as the climb was starting Michael Woods hit the deck, bringing down most of the Ineos team. Does Michael Woods have a French grandmother? Moscons bike was snapped in half. G had 3 team mates to tow him back and just managed to get back on when Alaphilippe attacked. He was too cooked, and too far down the peloton to be able to follow.

There was some accusations that Alaphilippe and Pinot benefited from drafting from motorbikes from Fuglsang, Mollema and Dan Martin. But as another journalist pointed out, if they were getting a draft why didn’t they catch de Ghent? Pull your necks in boys, you just were not good enough!

So in the end, De Ghent get’s the win, Alaphilippe gets yellow, and Pinot gets all his lost time back and even adds 19 seconds to 5th place G, first of the GC riders. “It’s better to be looking at it than for it”, goes an old Irish saying. that is so true in the Tour as it is easier to follow the wheels than try and attack. But will the TT be Pinots undoing?

Well that was fun and more interesting than the tipping! The same top 2 are at it again, swapping places. TMV4 back into first, and Snicko 5 back to 2nd. Geordies slips back into 3rd. Another big mover day, this time up 176 places is The General. No change at the bottom, with Fat Lasses and Merrill still battling it out by scoring no points.

 

 

Stage 7 – Atomic tadpole takes the Pocket Rocket by a hair

After yesterdays lengthy tome I think I will keep this one short, plus I struggled with a headline today after punching above my weight the last couple of days. To be honest not a lot happened on the longest stage of the tour, the pace was so slow for the first 200km that I watched the last 30km on the back of my eyelids and woke up at 12:15. Had to have a recap this morning. Nicco Roche crashed but is OK, Tejay van Garderen crashed and is not OK. Broken thumb, out of the tour. He seems to crash more than Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, and that is saying something. How Garaint ever finishes a race, let alone wins one is beyond me, he ends up on the deck so much.

Stage was a sprinters dream and the main protagonists did not disappoint. Greipels Samsic team tried to get him up to the front, but there is a world of difference between a world tour team and a pro-continental team. Some commentator referred to Greipels lead-out train as a lead-out tram, they were that slow!

Quickstep did an awesome lead out for Vivianni putting him, once again, in the box seat for the win. But when he went to put the power down all he seemed to have was Jambes de Bois. Sagan, Ewan and Groenewegen all swamped around him giving a cool aerial shot of the 4 best sprinters in the tour lined up across the road. This time Ewan had a clear shot at the line and both he and Groenewegen, passing Sagan, threw their bikes at the same time, but it was the Dutchman who took it by a tyre width.

Snicko 5 is back on top, probably thanks to Yoann Offredo winning the combative prize, and in my world, winner of the Tommy Try Hard trophy, for being in the breakaway for almost half of the tour already. TMV4 and Piglet get pushed down one spot each. Biggest mover goes to 3 teams today up 118 places, so 3 mentions. Orange Cycle lady 3, RSV Stuttgart-Vaihingen and O’Sporco. The latter being one of the few, if any, mentions I have given to one of my own teams! Still no change at the bottom with Merrill Bani and Fat lasses at the back 1 still battling it out for the lantern rouge.

Stage 6 – G strings out on the beautiful girls.

Ok, don’t come down too hard on me for that title, I didn’t make up the name of the mountain they finished on, La Planche des Belles Filles, but figured there must be some cheesy headline I could get from it! Plus one of our regulars, Teckers, came up with it. I did laugh at the play on words though, so will take the blame for publishing it. I am hoping to take a position with The Sun newspaper in England with headlines like that.

But of course I was intrigued as to the origin of the name so today’s report will enlighten you all on the matter. The name Belles Filles literally means “Beautiful Girls”, but is actually derived from the local plant life. The mountain is attested from the 16th century as lieu peuplé de belles fahys, a “place inhabited with nice beech trees” in the local dialect. Belles fahys later became corrupted into Belles Filles, though there remains a nearby village of Belfahy Meanwhile, Planche, “board”, is derived from the nearby small town of Plancher-les-Mines.  There is also some myth/legend that the girls from the town, fearing being raped and massacred by Swedish mercenaries, all took to the top of the hill and threw themselves into the lake below.

I didn’t hear Robbie and Matt give us that interesting bit of trivia during the show. Far more interesting than just another chateau!

Yesterday was always going to be a tough day, with plenty of climbs to keep the sprinters interested. But luckily no climb was so long that they got distanced by too much. In fact, the wily old Gorilla, went off in the break to ensure he had a head start up the last couple of climbs, and actually made a joke of carrying his bike across the line over his shoulder, cyclo-cross style. Maybe in reference to the last km of dirt they had to ride up. It is a bit early to be going all out in an attack, so the GC riders were happy to let a break go, and then stretch their legs on the final climb. The break stayed away, and Dylan Teuns out-sprinted Giulio Ciccone, but as a consolation the young Italian get’s to wear the yellow jersey for a few days after beating Alaphilippe by the 6 second time bonus he got for coming 2nd.  For the rest it was carnage as they came up the gravelly final 24% with Thomas doing the best of the GC guys. He put 9 seconds into Bernal, to remind his upstart teammate who is boss, at least for now. But he put a few seconds into all of the other GC riders as well.

Some other observations. I picked the wrong Frenchman. Bardet lost more time and is now 2 minutes behind Thomas, but Pinot actually came in right behind G to now only lie 11 seconds back, it could still be the year of the French. I also stuffed up with Jumbo Visma. I thought they would be fired up and be close enough to the front to contend, but in the end both Kruijswijk and Bennett lost time. However they are in touch with the Ineos pair of G and Bernal. What was interesting though was that Bennett put 17 seconds into his team mate, so I wonder if the Kiwi will get the nod for the mountains in a weeks time. I don’t think we will see much change for the next week in the GC rider positions. There are a few hilly stages, but nothing that should worry them. However the Time Trial on the 19th July will be interesting.

Last night also saw the first casualties of the tour. When I turned on I saw Nicolas Edet was already 17 minutes behind. I think he was a bit sick and DNFed. Paddy Bevin didn’t start.

The Giro Rose for the ladies is currently being run in Italy, and I read a great report that deserves a mention. There are some awesome women cyclist at the monent with Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten and Ann van der Breggen, no surprise they are all Cloggies. Any way  Annemiek van Vleuten  tore their legs off the day before yesterday. Champion rider Elisa Longo Borghini  said “I witnessed it … I saw when Annemiek went, and everybody was like ‘OK, the alien is gone and now the race for human beings begins,'” – Brilliant!

Long report today! Some change in the tipping with TMV4 slipping into top spot, with Goerdies dropping to 3rd. Piglet jumped into 2nd place to make up the top 3. Bi mover last night, up an amazing 181 places, was FattBoi. I guess having Thomas, Teuns and Barguil in your team, along with Groenwegen should give you some points, not sure why I hear mutterings of Fattboi being unhappy with his team. Drink another cocktail fella. You never lose as many places as you gain, so little point in taking the piss out of the biggest loser. But we do have a battle forming for the Lantern Rouge spot with Fat Lasses at The Back 1 and Merrill Bani both propping the table up with 10 points.

 

Stage 5 – Others marvel as Hulk smashes

Well I finally got a prediction right as Peter Sagan opened his account in this years tour and cemented his position at the top of the Green jersey comp. Matthews is a gallant 2nd in the comp, but like last year, the only thing that can give him victory is a crash from Sagan. And as one of the worlds best bike handlers that does seem unlikely. With a few sizeable lumps in the Voges before the finish, the pure sprinters were going to have a day off, and save their strength for tonight’s brutal stage, where some of them will hope to avoid being eliminated. With the first climb at about the 10km point, it is going to be a hard day for the big guys.

Talking about riders being eliminated, this is day 6 of the tour, and we still have a full complement of 176 riders. The crashes don’t seem to have been to frequent, and when they did occur, not too brutal. I wonder if that will be the same when I am writing my report in the morning.

Alaphilippe, hung with the group to keep Yellow, but I suspect he will be handing it over tonight to one of the GC guys. The question is, to which one. Will it be to another Frenchman? Thibaut Pinot is from this area, so this is a home game for him, but he needs 27 seconds to overhaul Steven Kruijswijk and others. My prediction is that tonight Pinot will win the stage, but Kruijswijk or Bennett will be in yellow. With the Kiwis beating India in the Cricket last night, Bennett might be keen for his own small slice of history, unless of course team orders come into play.

Still tight at the top of the tipping with yesterdays top 3 switching places. Geordies equal first with TMV4 on 436 points, closely followed by yesterdays leader Snicko 5. Some big movers overnight but the nod goes to Tony Martin Fan Club, up 126 places, from nowhere to mid table mediocrity. No change at the bottom, with yesterdays bunch of losers, todays bunch of losers. Sounds a bit like a bunch of politicians…

Stage 4 – Nancy boys in lycra sprinting

Amazing how leaving out some punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence, although, for those of us who ride, we have had worse insults hurled at us. OK, I was struggling for a cheesy headline today, and that was the best I could come up with.

Yesterdays stage was as it said it would be, a nice ride through the French countryside culminating in 2 minutes of chaos. But for the first flat out bunch gallop to the line, this was a relatively sedate affair with the Quickstep boys executing one of the most perfect sprint trains since the day of the Manx Missile’s HTC squad. As an aside what were Dimension data thinking leaving the likable Manx Man at home, am sure he would have bettered Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins! I digress, Elia Viviani won his first ever Tour de France stage. To be honest he hasn’t been to this race much, normally preferring his home tour in Italy, but now he has notched up stage wins in all the Grand Tours, a great feat.

The really wasn’t much else to report. My pick Caleb Ewan did not seem to have the same legs on as he had on stage one. All he could do was follow Viviani’s wheel. The old bloke that is Kristoff had a great 2nd place and even the Gorilla managed to get into the top 12.

The big news in the tipping is everyone is off Null points! Plus I suspect over the next two days we will see the battle start to develope for the lantern rouge in the comp. Already it is between five teams propping up the foot of the table with 10 points. At the top, no change to the top 3 with Snicko 5, Goerdies and TMV4 holding their ground. Peach the Kelpie was yesterdays big mover, up 160 spots, although not really sure she is paying much attention to proceedings.

Tonight should be another stage for the sprinters unless a few get dropped on the last climb of the day. Maybe it is Sagans turn to win a stage?